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Letters to the editor May 21

| May 21, 2023 12:00 AM

Meaning of faith

By the time this letter is published, Megan Upton may be a newly elected member of the Columbia Falls School Board. If she is, it will be a tribute in part to a well-run, well-organized and apparently well-financed campaign.

What can’t be gauged is whether her election is also due to her self-described and ubiquitously reiterated claim by her supporters that she is “a woman of faith.” Or, to the contrary, if that description confused voters about how “faith” would play a part in her decisions as a trustee?

Faith means different things to different people. For some it means commitment: faithful in a marriage, faithful to exercise, faithfully watching the news every evening. For others it’s faith that things we take for granted, events that happen regularly, will continue: the sun will rise in the morning; the snow will eventually melt, giving way to green grass and budding flowers and trees. Faith can also be an expression of hope: that we will endure in the face of loss, physical hardship or illness, or that the overheating of the planet and accompanying weather catastrophes will be controlled.

Religious faith in God is the most common understanding of the word. But that has many possibilities, too. Is it faith in the teachings of Jesus, Mohammad or Buddha, to name just some of the prophets who have earned faithful followers? With so much ambiguity about faith it’s impossible to know exactly how “a woman of faith” will carry out her responsibilities as a school board member or what faith will influence her decisions.

There’s no fault for anyone finding comfort and purpose in her or his Christian faith, as long as I, and others, remain free to express faith in other orthodoxies, or in an absence of any such faith. It’s with hope, and not faith, that Ms. Upton will demonstrate the kind of critical thinking, honest debate and open-heartedness that our hardworking teachers seek to instill in all our children every day.

— Roger Hopkins, Columbia Falls

Governor’s veto

On May 2, Gov. Greg Gianforte vetoed Senate Bill 442.

By vetoing this bill, Gianforte ignored thousands of Montanans like you and legislators who have stood up over and over to make sure this historic public lands bill became law. When he did, Gianforte ignored 137 legislators who voted for it. He ignored county commissioners and local governments who supported it. He ignored farmers and ranchers who supported it. He ignored veterans who supported it. He ignored EMTs who supported it. And he ignored hunters who supported it.

Prior to the governor’s veto decision, many of Montana’s lawmakers stood with SB 442. This bill soared through both chambers in the final weeks of the Legislature, passing the Senate 48-1 and the House 82-17.

Gianforte is supposed to listen to — and serve -—the public, not turn his back on the needs of our people, our public lands and our wildlife.

For months, the Gianforte administration said that if we got good bipartisan bills on the governor’s desk he’d sign them. We held up our end of the deal, but the governor did not. SB 442 was bipartisan. It was well supported. It secured historic investments in habitat conservation, water conservation, weed management, public access and more.

Gianforte has repeatedly said that enhancing access, conserving wildlife and protecting open lands are some of his major priorities. These are nice sound bites — but vetoing SB 442 exposed his not-so-rosy true colors.

SB 442 would have resulted in historic investments in wildlife, water and public access. The governor took those investments away from all Montanans. SB 442 should become the law and we need to show the governor just how disappointed we are in his inexplicable decision to veto this popular bipartisan bill.

— Bruce Gibson, Columbia Falls

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